July 25, 2007
This Saturday, the city of Berlin will dedicate a street to the memory
of Frank Zappa. But Gail Zappa, wife of the late rock iconoclast, has
threatened to sue the musicians' collective behind the naming unless
Germany's formally-chartered Zappa fan club withdraws from the event.
A letter from a Dusseldorf law firm accuses Arf-Society e.V. (the fan
club) of exploiting the street dedication for its own purposes, and of
copyright violations and other rights infringements. The letter also
contends that Gail Zappa did not know about the street-naming, and
that she should have been contacted for approval.
In response, Thomas Dippel, Arf-Society chairperson, released the
"With great dismay and surprise, Arf-Society – organizer of biggest
known Zappa festival in the world for the last 18 years – must take
note of Gail Zappa's effort to prevent our participation in the
inauguration of Frank-Zappa-Street in Berlin.
"How this all came about: Acting on a proposal by the ORWOhaus
musicians' collective, the Marzahn-Hellersdorf district board approved
renaming 'Road 13' as 'Frank-Zappa-Strasse', the first street in
Germany named for a rock musician. This major recognition of Frank
pleased us greatly, of course. We immediately contacted ORWOhaus to
assure them of our help in any way we could.
"When Ahmet Zappa [Zappa's second son] was in Berlin on November 6,
2006, publicizing his first book, members of ORWOhaus invited him to
take part in the preparations and the event itself. By making contact
with the Zappa family, ORWOhaus hoped to spark a dialog about plans
for the event. The family never responded to these overtures.
"So, Arf-Society began to help by contacting Zappa tribute band 'Sheik
Yerbouti', and by arranging the participation of Napoleon Murphy
Brock, revered Zappa band member and star of last year's Zappa Plays
Zappa tour. In fact, Arf-Society is paying half of Mr. Brock's travel
expenses, which enables ORWOhaus to put a serious representation of
Zappa's music on stage for the celebration, despite a very limited budget.
"But then ORWOhaus received a letter from Thomas Schmitz, of the
Dusseldorf law firm Reiman Osterreith Kohler Haft, dated July 10,
2007, saying that they were retained to represent the legal interests
of Gail Zappa and her children after press releases saying that
Arf-Society would be involved in the street-naming. Gail Zappa would
sue because Arf-Society 'is constantly violating her trademark rights
and copyrights, and exploiting the artistic heritage of Frank Zappa.
Our client will under no circumstances put up with that Society taking
publicity from the street renaming for their own purpose.'
"These groundless accusations hurt us deeply, as we have strived for
almost two decades to honor and preserve Frank Zappa's musical
heritage. Long before 2004, we repeatedly invited Gail Zappa and her
family to work together with us, especially since they would profit
from our work promoting Frank's legacy. Yet, Gail Zappa's only answer
reads: 'If you want to play with me, you have to play it by my
rules!' She has also threatened other Zappa tribute bands and artists
with restraining orders for quite some time."
"Mrs Zappa, we protest explicitly against the unwarrented claims you
raised. As Frank would have asked, are you 'only in it for the money?'"
.... --- --- -.. --- ---
that broad is a wacko.